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Harold Arlen

Hyman Arluck
Chaim Arluck

Composer, Arranger, Pianist, Singer

(1905 - 1986)

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Harold Arlen was a musical prodigy who left school to work as a singer, pianist, arranger, composer and who, by his teens, had formed a jazz trio. He had his first Broadway hit, “Get Happy” (1930), with Ted Koehler. They went on to write for Cotton Club revues and film, turning out “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” (1931), “I Got A Right To Sing the Blues” (1932), “Stormy Weather” (1933), and “Let’s Fall in Love” and “Ill Wind” (1934).

Arlen wrote “Last Night When We Were Young” (1935) with “Yip” Harburg, the tip of their iceberg, so to speak, because in 1939 they scored The Wizard of Oz. “Over the Rainbow” won the Oscar and became Judy Garland’s signature tune. But Arlen’s talent for creating complex melodic and rhythmic structures made other songs from the film popular with jazz musicians--“Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead” and “If I Only Had a Brain.” The pair’s “Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe” from Cabin in the Sky was nominated for a 1942 Oscar.

Arlen’s collaboration with Johnny Mercer turned out equally dazzling songs: “Blues in the Night” (1941), “That Old Black Magic” (1942), “My Shining Hour” (1943), “One For My Baby” (1943), “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” (1944), “Out Of This World” (1945) and “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home” and “Come Rain or Come Shine” (1946).

From 1948 on, Arlen collaborated with several lyricists, writing “The Man That Got Away” with Ira Gershwin for the Judy Garland film, A Star Is Born (1954) and returning to Broadway in 1954 to work with Truman Capote on a show which produced “A Sleepin’ Bee” and “Two Ladies in de Shade of de Banana Tree.”

Arlen’s Blues Opera Suite was performed by Andre Kostelanetz at Carnegie Hall in 1957, and he continued to work until his wife’s death in 1970 when he withdrew from public life.

- Sandra Burlingame

Harold Arlen Centennial Celebration

Various Artists

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook

Ella Fitzgerald

Get Happy: Harold Arlen Centennial Celebration

Various Artists

Stormy Weather: The Legendary Lena (1941-1958)

Lena Horne

One for My Baby

Joe Pass

Come Rain or Shine

Dexter Gordon

Over the Rainbow

Harold Arlen
Reading and Viewing

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Edward Jablonsi

Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues

Northeastern University Press

E. Y. Harburg, Harold Arlen, Julia Noonan

Over the Rainbow

Harper Collins Publishers

Judy Garland, Frank Morgan

The Wizard of Oz (1939)


Judy Garland, James Mason

A Star Is Born (1954)


Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Matthew 'Stymie' Beard, Ada Brown, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter

Stormy Weather

20th Century Fox


Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin, Barbra Streisand, Harold Arlen, Mel Torme, Andre Previn, Tony Bennett

Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Harold Arlen



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